Moving abroad is complicated. It does not matter if it’s for work, studying, volunteering or if you are just traveling for an extended period of time; moving abroad can be incredibly challenging at the same time that can be a wonderful experience in a number of ways that go far beyond taking gorgeous pictures in magical places. But there are some details that come in the small print of the contract, and no one ever comments.
In this case we will talk about one of the most significant challenges that people abroad face, homesickness. But what is exactly that? Well, homesickness is basically an acute form of anxiety or emotional distress that comes when you feel disconnected from familiar people and places, or when you find difficult adjusting to a new environment, what causes you to begin to feel lonely and sad.
So today, I decided to share with you some tips that will help you overcome the emotional distress that comes with the fact of moving abroad.
Make your new home a home
Turn your workspace and your home-space into a place where you would like to spend time and where you feel comfortable. Try to spend a little time and money on making your home a place that excites you go back every day. Try to make it your safe place.
You don’t need to invest too much money or make big changes in a single purchase, but you could go adding items that make you feel like you are at home, such as furniture, shelf for books, bedding sets, blankets, pillows, and decorative objects. Remember, the idea is to make that place yours.
And in the case that you can not immediately afford the improving of your apartment, another good option is seek for a nearby place that provides you that feeling of comfort and familiarity, like a nearby park, library, coffee shop or any other place that makes you feel in your comfort zone.
Start as a tourist
The first weeks in your new city/ country, try to go to the most popular attractions, this will help you to get to know the city and learn about the country’s culture. Then, when you begin to feel more secure, try to find places in your neighborhood that make you feel comfortable, such as restaurants and parks, or even places where you can meet new people and make some friends.
And remember, try to walk around your neighborhood when you have nothing to do, this will help you to get familiar with the streets and places that are near to you.
Take a break from social media
Try to find a healthy balance between your ties at home and your new life. Technology is a great option to keep in touch with the people you care, but when you start spending more than 3 hours a day in social media trying to catch up in everything that happened at home we have a problem! That time you are using in social media missing your home, you could use it for exploring and connecting with your new home and friends.
So! take a break from social media and your phone, and invest that time in extra activities that would let you meet new people. Learn something new and live new experiences that you can then tell your friends and family.
Keep up your habits
Not because you move abroad everything in your life have to change. If you used to practice an activity back at home, it’s understandable that you miss that part of your life.
Attempt to bring that part of your old routine in your new life, for example if you used to practice a particular sport or physical activity like climbing you don’t have to give them up just because you move abroad, there is a high probability that you will find people doing the same activities in your new city, so you only need to research a little bit and find them.
Create a routine
Create a routine can offer you a feeling of comfort with your environment, but not because you have a routine means that it will be monotonous and boring. You only need to figure out what do you need to do during the week for work or school and try to add something interactive in the free time between your responsibilities such as: exercising in the morning before you go out, having breakfast/ dinner with some friends in a nearby local, try to cook something different for yourself,- and if you are not an expert in the kitchen I suggest you watch some tutorials on Youtube. The idea is to keep your mind occupied and entertained because in that way it will be harder for you to fall into nostalgia.
Make new friends in your new city can be a great option to get involved with the culture of the people. I understand that sometimes it can also be a bit scary, but you shouldn’t restrict yourself.
Meet new people isn’t as complicated as it seems, just don’t close yourself off to talking with strangers, use the public transportation, take classes about something new or get a dog – even you can borrow one – to take for a walk, etc. Believe it or not, people are more likely to talk to you when you are alone.
Make a bucket list
Research all that interesting places in your new country/city that you want to visit, like the best coffee shops, malls, museums, parks and tourist points.
The idea is get you out of the house and challenge yourself to do and see new things, that will be fun and will keep your mind entertained, instead of using that time thinking on what’s happening at home.
Try to remind you why did you decide to move to that specific place, and give to the city the chance of surprise you with all it has to offer. So! what are you waiting for make a list of those places you want to visit?
Pamper yourself… schedule some “me” time
One thing that we need to consider is that negative feelings like homesickness and loneliness can often manifest in unhealthy eating habits, like eating too much food high in sugar or falling into fast food and unhealthy. But moving abroad has some advantages, like find out new food, for that reason give yourself the opportunity to seduce your palate with new flavors typical of the culture of your new home.
This can also be a great excuse to get out and explore new places to eat or to improve your cooking skills, so take advantage of your situation and get something positive about it.
But nostalgia not only affects your eating habits, it also affects your mood. It’s important that you invest time in things that make you feel better, from time to time, try to pamper yourself, buy something new and cute for you, take some time for yourself, read a book, go to the hair salon, get a mani-pedi or even try to practice meditation.
Do exercise… Go outside
Creating an exercise routine is crucial because it’s proven that practice a physical activity is one of the best options to combat stress and nostalgia. It can also help you to keep healthy and in shape while you are abroad.
If you are that kind of people who are lazy when it comes to exercise, you should start with short routines between 15 to 20 minutes, you can start with daily runs of 20 minutes, go to your school or workplace by bike or just try to walk as much as possible – whatever you prefer. But try to make an effort because when your body is active will produce endorphins that are biologically programmed to make you feel better.
Work on positive thinking
When you are suffering from homesickness, you are prone to suffer negative thinking, for that reason is really important that you learn how to think positively and combine it with the other tips wrote above. One suggestion that I have for you is creating a bottle of positive statements – you are probably wondering what is that?-. Well, you only need to find a nice bottle or jar- you can buy it or decorate your own bottle-, and every day that something good happens, you will write it on a piece of paper and put it inside the bottle. At the end of the week, you can lay down accompanied by a good cup of coffee and read all your positive statements.
By the way, they don’t have to be large statements, think about those small details that made your day and made you smile, and write it down. This activity will help you to spin away the negative thoughts.
Do something scary sometimes
Did you know that one way to reduce anxiety is doing something you find embarrassing or scary? It May sounds like too much for you at first but you have to try to get out of your comfort zone, and believe me! That will help you drain all that accumulated anxiety. For example, if you’re living in another country where they speak a different language push yourself to talk more in that language and make new friends.